Monday, April 27, 2009

Jimmy Bailey: Capitalism and Selfless Service Work Together

Some might consider the pursuit of capitalism to be at cross-purposes with selfless service to your community – but Jimmy Bailey, Founder and CEO of YEScarolina (http://yescarolina.com/), has meaningfully demonstrated how the two can go hand in hand.

Jimmy first read about the National Foundation of Entrepreneurship (NFTE) in 1998 – and shortly thereafter was deeply moved by a speech given by Steve Mariotti, a business person turned teacher, who made a break through discovery while attempting to teach low income youth in New York City public schools. Marriotti said: “I know a secret which, if fully understood by our government, business, and community leaders, could have enormous positive implications for the future of our society. Simply put, the secret is this: Children born into poverty have special gifts that prepare them for business formation and wealth creation.”


These words set Jimmy on his course.

A former member of the General Assembly, Jimmy mobilized his networks and spheres of influence across our community to introduce the idea of entrepreneurship to create financial freedom for disadvantaged youth. He has spent much of his own money and countless volunteer hours raising money, both private and public, to bring NFTE training to teachers, starting in the Tricounty area and now spreading across the state of South Carolina. Ultimately, his inspired dream and vision led him to establish YEScarolina. Because of Jimmy’s leadership, students across SC learn valuable skills in financial literacy, writing of business plans, and effective presentation abilities. His networking and advocacy efforts have supplied numerous classrooms across our state with free textbooks, workbooks, training classes, and competitions to promote entrepreneurial and capitalistic concepts.

Jenny Whittle, a consultant to YEScarolina, sums up Jimmy’s selfless service best: “Jimmy Bailey is unabashedly determined to provide South Carolinian youth with the tools to create change in their economic status, resulting in financial freedom, as well as competitive advantage in seeking employment. Teachers and students alike recognize their lives are changed as a result of this education. It empowers them to think as businesspersons and seek opportunities that they were unaware of previously.”

Thank you Jimmy Bailey for all you do


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A man with heart: Louis Yuhasz

We are lucky. People in the Lowcountry amaze me by their response to everyday life, to struggles, to happiness and celebration. People here have heart. They care about neighbors and friends and community, about kids or the elderly or folks simply scraping to make ends meet. I met someone – Louis Yuhasz – a while back who definitely has heart, but, more impressive, is what he does with that heart...



Those who know Louis Yuhasz are nodding their heads “YES!!” and agreeing that he is an impressive guy. He founded a nonprofit, named after his dad, called Louie’s Kids whose mission is “fighting obesity one child at a time.” When I first met him, I admit that I wondered, “why kids struggling with weight?!” – it’s not a “popular” issue or one makes the hair on the back of the neck stand on end. As with so many nonprofit people, his passion was ignited by personal experience or higher calling. In Louis’ case, it was both of these: You see, his dad Louie Yuhasz, died in 2001 from complications of obesity, so Louis (the son) saw first-hand the effects of excessive weight on the individual and the family. In the wake of his dad’s passing, Louis started to find meaning in the loss and began working with kids to find a solution for their obesity. I don’t know Louis well (and it’s a safe bet that he doesn’t remember meeting me), but my guess is that he struggled some with how hard his dad’s life was. I’d also venture to say that rather than forget about his dad’s struggle weight, about how hard it was to find proper care, or about how hard and mean people can be, his heart told him to do something positive. If you happen upon Louis Yuhasz, you’ll recognize that his passion to early intervention and long-term healthy living is no pie-in-the sky idea. He’s on to something, and he’s thrown himself entirely into it. Check out the website (http://www.louieskids.org/) and you’ll see how impressive his heart is and, thankfully, how smart he is at this work. I was lucky to meet Louis Yuhasz. The kids he works with are lucky. And if you want to know why his work is so important, click here (if you’re not into research-speak, just look at the graphs). And click here if you want to find out if you eat enough fruits and veggies.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

OPEN grant funding available. You decide.


Throughout the year, Coastal Community Foundation staff recruit community volunteers to serve on grants committees. These volunteers are the ones who make evaluated recommendations as to where grant funding is allocated based on charitable programming and financial need criteria. Community members such as yourself meet to evaluate the nonprofits' applications, conduct site visits (see picture) to ask appropriate questions, and then deliberate on the funding levels for eligible charities with the highest need and impact.

Community-based grantmaking is what makes us a "community" foundation.

This year's OPEN grant competition has an approaching deadline of June 1, 2009. Eligible nonprofit agencies serving the Tricounty area in the fields of education, health, human needs, environment, the arts, and neighborhood and community development need apply. Last year's funding level was at $250K for over forty area nonprofits.

If you are a nonprofit interested in this year's OPEN grants competitive program fill out an application. If you are interested in volunteering on a grants committee throughout the year please contact us.

We can all pitch in to help the community.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

The missing link


Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling points out the paradox that is Beaufort. "Per capita," he says, "Beaufort County is one of the wealthiest in all of South Carolina."  It has deep pockets of poverty as well as new communities of great wealth. In the last decade, Dataw, Spring Island, Callawassie, and others, have become home to some of the smartest, richest retirees on the planet. Real "masters of the universe" who have made money with just their wits. The Mayor is not talking about taxes or fundraising to smooth out the disparities in wealth.  He's talking about building better nonprofits by applying the smarts of those retirees to create improvements in operations, new business plans, and alike. He is advocating that we address social ills by creating new strategic partnerships based on real innovation.  Smart innovators are now in abundance in Beaufort.  His insight is to recognize the "need" for meaningful involvement among newly arriving retirees just as we recognize the "need" among those living in poverty for assistance.

He pauses to roll up his shirt sleeves.  The next few minutes are a storm of ideas with flashes of brilliance, all held together by Billy's line of reasoning that connects need with need. Here's a man who needs no explanation of how a community foundation can serve both donors and grantees, venture philanthropists and the nonprofit marketplace, those in poverty and those of means. There are needs on both ends of the line that connects these natural partners. 

The missing link is the connection between people.  Mayor Keyserling is that missing link. "Making ends meet" for Billy is more than just balancing a budget. The ends will meet when a chain of connections link those seeking meaning in their retirement with those seeking the means for a lifetime of success. 

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Power of Community

The Foundation Center reports that nationwide grantmaking by communities foundations is up 6.7% even in these tough economic times. At Coastal Community Foundation, we are up 13% over last year. While all foundations; private, corporate, and community have experienced losses in market value, community foundations alone are showing a burst of grantmaking activity.

The New York Times provides more detail, showing that for all grantmaking foundations total assets have declined and therefore future distributions are likely to drop for many foundations. However, giving through community foundations remains strong. Why the difference? Of the three types of foundations only community foundations are community-based. Private family foundations are created by wealthy families and are not open to future expansion by the general public. If the family or its profit-making holdings do well then new funds are added. Of course this is not likely during a recession. Likewise, giving by corporate foundations tends to increase when profits from the founding company increase and new funds are added from corporate profits. So for both private and corporate foundations increases in money passing through the foundation and out into the larger community are unlikely in these difficult times.

The difference is that community foundations are public charities and the community continues to add funds to community foundations even during a recession. Those funds then become available for distribution and act to stablize the nonprofit sector. While counter-intuitive, this community-based giving was enhanced during the decline in the financial markets. Coastal Community Foundation saw an increase in the creation of new, large grantmaking funds during the market downturn. As the markets fell donors transferred funds to Coastal Community Foundation to lock in the value of their assets for tax purposes. We started to see the signals of the market downturn before the worst came. The "smart money" was locking in the highest tax deductions possible before the declining value of their holdings reduced tax benefits.

And now we all benefit. The word "community" in "community foundation" means that everyone can participate, all of us can benefit. The community that gives us a sense to shared responsibility is the same community that provides support to charities during this recession. Giving to and through Coastal Community Foundation will exceed last year's total. Ponder that thought for a moment. The community behind Coastal Community Foundation, and all community foundations for that matter, is what gives us strength during times like these.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Quiet Actions in a Loud World


Recently my friend Holland Williams, President of the Junior League of Charleston (http://www.jlcharleston.org/), lent me a copy of a book that was recommended to her: Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy. The story is about the remarkable response of forgiveness of the Amish community to the horrific shooting of ten schoolgirls at Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, in October 2006. The book came up in conversation one day as Holland and I were discussing what “community” really means…and how often we (yours truly, especially!) are guilty of putting self before others – even when we are in the ‘midst’ of doing community service.




One point I learned about the Amish community in reading this book is their practice of restraint when it comes to publicity. This especially became apparent during news coverage of the Nickel Mines shooting in October 2006. The authors state, “The Amish also refrain from publicity because, as a collective society, they believe that the community should come first, not the individual. (emphasis mine) Having one’s name in a newspaper story manifests pride by calling attention to one’s opinions; therefore, some Amish people will talk to the press but only if they can remain anonymous. Faith must at times be practiced in public but should not, in the Amish view, be showcased.”

As I read these words, it struck me that Coastal Community Foundation’s donors practice their philanthropy much like the Amish practice their faith. Our donors seem much more interested in quietly doing the right thing than they are in receiving accolades for doing good deeds. Now don’t get me wrong, often our donors’ efforts receive recognition from the community – and they should. Or sometimes donors will put their good name behind an effort in order to encourage others to support it – and that is a good thing too. I am thinking of the countless anonymous donors who give through Coastal Community Foundation. I am thinking of the lady and gentleman, both of modest means, who visited our office a couple of weeks ago, interested in establishing a scholarship to honor the life of their dear friend and colleague who is dying of cancer. They do this selflessly to honor their friend and to carry on her legacy of community service by inspiring local scholars to do the same. I am thinking of the generous lady who recently established a fund to benefit low-income children, in honor of her deceased husband. And I am thinking of the retired businessman who has thrown himself, body, mind and spirit, into using his business acumen to help struggling arts organizations while simultaneously raising funds to launch a much needed literacy program in local Title I schools. I am inspired by each and every one.

Reading Amish Grace caused me to reassess how I make decisions about philanthropy. Do I agree to volunteer activities because it will raise my visibility as an individual, or because I truly believe in the cause and want to serve others? Do I make charitable donations in hopes of showing up on some donor roster or to curry favor with community leaders? Or do I do it because simply, quietly, it is my way of doing the right thing. I am grateful to have a job where I am daily convicted by the quiet, thoughtful generosity of the donors with whom I am privileged to work.